School Director Transferred After $30K Scandal

Ly Sothea, the director of the National Institute of Business (NIB) at the center of a scandal involving more than $30,000 that was withheld from teachers, was transferred from his position Monday to a new job at the Labor Ministry, though an Education Ministry official emphasized that the move was voluntary.

Forty lecturers at NIB, which is located in Phnom Penh, went on strike in May complaining that Mr. Sothea had failed to pay them an agreed-upon portion of student fees, totaling $31,500. However, they agreed to end their protests after the Labor Ministry brokered a deal for them to receive their money.

Monday, Mr. Sothea was formally transferred to a post at the Labor Ministry in a ceremony presided over by Pich Sophoan, a secretary of state at the Education Ministry. In a speech, Mr. Sophoan told the institute’s staff that “dirty clothes should be cleaned in house.”

“The meaning is that when there are scandals in the house, don’t let outsiders know,” Mr. Sophoan said. “And in our house, the spouses argue a lot.”

Mr. Sophoan reminded those in attendance that “no one is perfect in this world,” before affirming that the outgoing director was leaving the job of his own volition.

“You have to remember, today, it is not the ministry or the government that removes His Excellency Ly Sothea. His Excellency Ly Sothea has resigned to go to a new job.”

At the ceremony, it was announced that Mr. Sothea would take up a new position as deputy secretary-general at the Labor Ministry’s department of strike resolution. He will be replaced at NIB by Teb Oeun, deputy director general of the Labor Ministry’s technical department.

In his farewell speech, Mr. Sothea struck a philosophical tone, extolling his accomplishments during his six years as the director of NIB, such as building parking lots and gardens at the school.

“I don’t want to go to another place, but we have to remember that nothing lasts forever in this world,” he said. “I cannot entirely control the minds of some people who do not listen to me because they go with whatever they think, and that has made our institute have problems.

“But it is natural for humans that we cannot satisfy all people.”

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